In March, the Northeastern monsoon is coming to an end; the most pleasant weather in the northeast will start in the coming few months. In the southwest, Colombo and the country’s most developed beaches will still be dry. The fair weather makes March a popular time to visit Sri Lanka. Keep in mind that you might still get rain during the dry season, or clear days during the wet season: Sri Lanka’s tropical climate means that precipitation is somewhat unpredictable.
Temperatures in Sri Lanka are pretty consistent year-round. In March, Colombo experiences highs of around 90°F and lows of 77°F. In Kandy, average highs are around 90°F and lows at 68°F, while at the cooler hill station of Nuwara Eliya, highs are at 72°F with lows at 52°F. In the city of Trincomalee, in northeastern Sri Lanka, highs in March are around 88°F, with lows at 77°F.
The Cultural Triangle region (Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla) has an average humidity of about 60% at this time—the lowest of the year. Average highs in Dambulla are around 93°F, with lows at 72°F.
Crowds & Costs
Due to the good weather, March is part of the high season in Sri Lanka. However, the peak tourist time is coming to an end—by next month, the shoulder season will have started. Many travelers will have returned to work and school from their vacations. Still, it’s a popular time, and it can’t hurt to make arrangements in advance.
Where to Go
March is a great time to soak up the good weather on the beaches of southwestern Sri Lanka. The beaches near Negombo are some of the most popular on the island, so they may be busy with visitors at this time. Further south, Unawatuna Beach is also likely to be busy, as it’s quite popular with visitors to the nearby city of Galle. Those looking for a quieter atmosphere can head to Talalla Beach or Mirissa Beach.
It’s also a good time to visit the attractions of the Cultural Triangle. The most popular sites are in Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa, while Anuradhapura and Dambulla are slightly quieter. There are also some interesting off-the-beaten-path attractions in this area, like the Nagalakanda Ruins.
For more information, see Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka.
What to Do
March is part of Adam’s Peak season, so travelers heading up to Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands can add this overnight adventure to their itinerary. Adam’s Peak is a 7350-foot high mountain located in Sri Lanka’s Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, not far from Horton Plains National Park. The mountain is also known as Sri Pada, and is an important pilgrimage site, especially for Buddhists. A footprint mark at the top is attributed to the Buddha—Tamil Hindus ascribe it to Lord Shiva, and some Sri Lankan Muslims and Christians believe it belonged to the biblical Adam. During the pilgrimage season, devotees climb the mountain overnight and watch the sunrise in the morning.
There’s also plenty to see in the Cultural Triangle. Sigiriya is famous for its photogenic ancient rock fortress, which is very popular with travelers. In Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, you can see the sprawling remains of ancient cities—many people choose to rent bicycles to get around the enormous complexes of ruins. Nearby Dambulla is well-known for its painted cave temples. If you visit Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura, try to wrap up your sightseeing before nightfall, as street lighting around the ancient cities is limited.
Events in March
Several important festivals and holidays take place in Sri Lanka during March.
The Hindu festival of Maha Shivratri often falls during March (dates can vary, as they are determined according to the lunisolar calendar). This festival is celebrated with an overnight vigil in honor of Lord Shiva. Rituals take place in Sri Lanka’s Shiva temples, many of which are located in the north and east of the island, where Hindu Tamils make up the majority of the population.
Buddhist Poya days happen on the full moon day of every month in Sri Lanka, and March is no exception. March’s Poya is known as the Medin Poya, and commemorates the Buddha’s first visit to his father’s kingdom after his enlightenment.
Traveling to Sri Lanka in March? Check out these great itineraries.
Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Explore Sri Lanka’s historic sites, see wildlife, and relax on golden-sand beaches with this two-week itinerary.
Sri Lanka Active Adventure - 9 Days
On this tour, you’ll take in the highlights of the cultural triangle, hike through the rainforest, and explore Galle Fort.